News / Middle East

Will Egypt Unrest Undermine Middle East Peace Process?

Anti-Mubarak protesters hold an huge Egyptian flag in Cairo's Tahrir Square, February 8, 2011
Anti-Mubarak protesters hold an huge Egyptian flag in Cairo's Tahrir Square, February 8, 2011

Multimedia

Audio

Masses of demonstrators continue their protest against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.  Our correspondent looks at whether events in Egypt have any effect on the Middle East peace process involving Israelis and Palestinians.

Just days after being inaugurated president of the United States on January 20, 2009, Barack Obama named former Senator George Mitchell as U.S. special envoy to the Middle East.  Mitchell’s negotiating skills were well documented, as he helped mediate the 1998 Good Friday Accord in Northern Ireland.  His appointment by Mr. Obama was seen as a strong signal that the United States was committed to getting negotiations started again between Israelis and Palestinians.  

But more than two years after Mitchell’s appointment, analysts say the peace process is going nowhere.

Fawaz Gerges is with the London School of Economics:

"There is no peace process.  The peace process is dead, and we know why the peace process is dead," Gerges said. "Let us be blunt about it.  President Barack Obama invested considerable political capital in trying to nudge the Palestinians and the Israelis into a comprehensive peace settlement, trying to broker a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  Let us not fudge the issue.  The issue is the Israeli side is unwilling to basically freeze settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem - even partial settlements."

The Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, has made it clear it will not negotiate with Israel so long as it continues to build settlements in occupied territory.

Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft says both sides are intransigent.

"On the Israeli side, they are clearly not prepared to stop building settlements, which are a threat to a two-state solution," Scowcroft said. "On the Arab side, there is increasing agitation to abandon a two-state solution, which will be a catastrophe for Israel."

Many analysts say the current upheaval in Egypt has nothing to do with the stalled Middle East peace process.

Daniel Kurtzer was a former U.S. ambassador to both Egypt and Israel.

"The peace process has been in some crisis anyway before this outbreak in Egypt," Kurtzer said. "The administration has been trying for two years to get some traction for negotiations and has not really succeeded.  So at the moment, I think the events in Egypt simply exacerbate the problem that the peace process is facing.  And certainly they do not make it easier to envisage negotiations in the short term."

Former senior State Department official Aaron David Miller, who is now with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, says events in Egypt present a sort of silver lining for President Obama.

"In a way, in an odd way, the administration has been saved by developments in Egypt because at least for the short term, they do not have to think about a strategy toward the peace process," Miller said. "It is stuck - and there is very little that the Obama administration right now is able or willing to do about it."

Looking at Israeli-Egyptian relations, experts such as Fawaz Gerges say one cause for concern, especially for Israel, is what kind of government will emerge in Egypt to replace President Hosni Mubarak?  And will it abide by the 1979 peace treaty signed between the two countries?

"If I were to look at it from an Israeli point of view, one of the major lessons that emerges, so far, out of the Egyptian drama, is that as long as there is no peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Israel will never feel secure," Gerges said. "That is - by relying on one man, that is Mubarak, or one man, the late President Anwar Sadat, Israel’s security is more of short term as opposed to the long term."

In the final analysis, many experts believe whatever government comes out of the upheaval in Egypt will abide by the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace accord.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

New Yellow Fever Research May Lead to Improved Treatment

Researchers identify features of disease that may lead to more effective treatment More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid